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The hidden costs of authoring tools (and how to spend more wisely)

6 minute read

Will Brown
By William Brown

Head of Learning Consultancy


Faced with an impending economic downturn, businesses are under pressure. While L&D has always had to justify itself, there’s now an increased focus on proving its value. But with fast-changing business needs, this isn’t easy. How can you prove your work offers a good Return on Investment (ROI)? The first step is to take a closer look at your tools and the hidden costs you might not have budgeted for.

hidden costs of authoring tools

Navigating the economic downturn 

With economic pressure and uncertainty growing, businesses need to adapt quickly. Tough decisions will need to be made. Budgets will be cut and headcount reduced. 

During recessions, L&D is often one of the first departments that are hit. But even though the workforce might be reduced, your organizations’ learning needs won’t be decreasing any time soon. In fact, the potential loss of expertise from the business means L&D is more important than ever.

You and your team need to demonstrate your value by supporting your organization through this period of disruption. That means meeting the business’ needs by doing more with less. Where you spend your limited budget and the ROI it offers will be critical.

The hidden costs of authoring tools (and how to spend more wisely)

Authoring technology can take up a big part of your budget. The Brandon Hall Group found that on average in a large organization 44% of the L&D budget goes on people, 27% on technology and 29% on content. If you’ve invested wisely, your technology will not only help you produce more effective learning, but save on your other costs. However, although many authoring tools look cost effective on paper, they can have hidden expenses that quickly mount up when working at scale.

If you’re going to understand the true cost of your authoring tool, there are five key considerations:

LMS administration

Keeping training relevant and up to date in a world of accelerated change can be a real headache. From staying on top of updates through to rolling out localized modules, speed and agility is key. Time consuming upload and reupload processes take up more of your team’s attention, which ultimately uses your people budget. 

How to avoid it? Choose a tool that allows you to quickly launch and update content without needing to re-upload files and change existing links to courses.


Project management and collaboration

Developing learning in large organizations can involve a lot of people – all with different priorities, experience and skills. If your tools don’t support effective collaboration, you’ll spend a lot more time supporting people and making sure your projects are progressing with the appropriate input and sign off.

How to avoid it? Ensure your authoring tool has collaborative workflows that will empower everyone involved to contribute effectively.

Maintaining variations and updates

In global businesses, localizing content is critical to staying effective and compliant in every region. However, many authoring tools aren’t set up for this process. Localization often requires duplication and manually making changes many times. This can be a huge undertaking for your team. 

How to avoid it? Look for authoring tools which are set up for course variations and allow you to cascade changes.

Content translations 

Translation can be a long and costly process. Some authoring tools require translated text to be manually re-engineered. The more complicated the work, the more likely you’ll want to outsource this task completely to a translation partner. And, of course, this comes with additional costs. 

How to avoid it? Explore authoring tools that enables one-click download of course content and error free upload of translated versions to a cloned course. 

Outsourcing to agencies or off the shelf content

When your team doesn’t have the capacity to take a request on, you may consider outsourcing it to an elearning agency or searching for related off-the-shelf content. Agency-created content can be high quality, but it can often be a long process to create and maintain. Not to mention, it can be very expensive. Off-the-shelf content can be quick to deploy, but will likely lack relevance and can offer very little ROI.

How to avoid it? Find a user-friendly authoring tool so you can scale up production using novice learning creators from across your organization and reduce expensive outsourcing costs!

Want to explore your options further? Check out our blog on the best elearning authoring tools available.

How you can be more efficient and cut costs with Elucidat

As an L&D professional, you may deal with hundreds, sometimes thousands, of courses each year. Working with people across your organization, while handling variations in branding, content and language, can become difficult and costly to manage at this size. 

If you don’t want unexpected learning technology costs to start mounting up, you need an authoring tool that is designed to work at scale and helps you keep costs under control. 

hidden costs

With Elucidat you get:

  • Efficient project releases: Elucidat removes lots of LMS admin headaches with project releases at super speed and live content updates at the click of a button. No need to re-upload the SCORM package to your LMS!
  • Guided Authoring: Unlock production with Collaborative Content Creation powered by Elucidat’s Guided Authoring. This workflow empowers any employee to share their expertise and create impactful elearning – that meets standards with ease.
  • Integrated review feature: With Elucidat you can invite reviewers at any time, as you work on a project. Keeping everything in one place makes it much easier to manage the review and feedback process. Stay on track with your projects as you can see who needs to complete their reviews at a glance.
  • Translations and Variations Manager: Elucidat makes managing localizations and translations much easier. Cloning your course makes reuse, rebranding and translation simple. Keeping a parent course avoids version control issues and makes updates simple.
  • Project management: Elucidat keeps you in control with Advanced User Management. Permissions can be customized to a granular level, so even the broadest group of authors and reviewers stay focused with the functionality they need. Usage logs give you visibility of how accounts are being used and project locking reduces the risk of errors being introduced.

These features combine to free up your capacity. By managing more digital learning production in-house, you reduce your reliance on agencies and off-the-shelf content. By empowering any employee to produce effective learning, you’re able to focus on strategic oversight and delivering impact. 

Want to find out more? Read our blog on how your investment will pay off with Elucidat.

In summary

The impending economic downturn means L&D are going to need to prove their value to the business. This means doing more with less. Moving to an authoring that looks cost effective on paper may seem the obvious choice. But remember that many tools have hidden costs which mount up when you’re working at scale. Any additional complexity and challenge to LMS admin, project management and collaboration, elearning updates, variations and translations can slow you down and increase costs. If you don’t have capacity for this work, it can also drive you to expensive agencies or less impactful off the shelf content. 

Choosing a tool, like Elucidat, which is designed to meet your need for speed at an enterprise scale, keeps costs under control when you increase elearning production. By harnessing the expertise within your organization to produce effective learning you can create real long-term value for your business. 

Want to try it for yourself? Book a demo of Elucidat and find out how we can help you be more efficient and cut costs.

Written by William Brown

Will leads the Learning Consultancy at Elucidat, focusing on aligning specialist services with customer objectives. He excels in understanding and addressing the unique needs of each customer, driving their success and achieving their elearning goals.

Read more articles by William Brown